10 Things We Learned From 'Breaking Bad' S5E12 "Rabid Dog"

As we promised in "The Ones Who Knock" Kickstarter, I will be doing weekly recaps here for each episode of Breaking Bad. For those of you unfamiliar with my recapping style, it's less of a straightforward plot summary and more a distillation of the most interesting elements of each week's episode.  The recaps will spoil everything up through the current episode (S5E11 "Confessions"), but won't spoil any future episodes or even scenes from the "Next Time" segment of the show.  There will, however, be some light speculation and straight-up crackpot theories.  No theory or speculation is based on foreknowledge of the show.  So hold on to your pork pie hats, because here we go.

1. And Here I Thought Aaron Paul Had Given Us Everything Last Week: After the heartbreaking rage-a-thon that was the end of last week's episode "Confessions," I would have been okay  if Aaron Paul had taken it easy this week.  But no, here he is, gobbling the scenery as if it were a bag of Funyuns.  Everyone is doing a magnificent job on the series, of course, but after a couple catatonic episodes, Aaron Paul is turning it up to 11.  Of course, Pinkman's off the wagon here.  Shame.

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2. Jesse Pinkman All Alone: But Pinkman's not only a loose cannon, he's all alone in his downward spiral. In the last few episodes we've seen our main characters close rank.  Sky's on team White, Hank and Marie firmly on team Schrader.  Saul's got his lackeys and now Hank even has Gomez on his side.  But who's looking out for Jesse?  Certainly not Badger.  So Walter's efforts to reconcile with Jesse, to bring him back into the fold carry all the more weight when other, more "virtuous" characters (Hank, Sky) wish ill on him.  He's not a rabid dog.  Far from it.  He's the Lost Puppy of the series and in trying to protect him, Walt earns some of our sympathies back.  Last week commenters said they couldn't envision a world in which Walt would hurt Jesse.  And I agree.  To a point.  We'll get to that point.

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3. But, Seriously, How Disappointed Were You In Hank? First of all, I love that it was Hank who stopped Jesse.  I don't think we saw that coming.  Most people guessed it would be Walt Jr. or Walt himself.  Secondly, I was so pleased when Hank seemed to want to take care of Jesse.  Jesse was with the Schraders!  He would be safe!  Marie's making him lasagna!  Yeah, I fell for it.  Which makes me dumber than Pinkman, I guess.

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4. Who Thought Flynn Might Actually Get To Be A Badass For A Second?: The looks on RJ Mitte and Anna Gunn's faces as Walt spun his preposterous gasoline pump malfunction lie?  Priceless.  I keep hoping Walt Jr. will call his dad out on all his lies and we were almost there last night. So close to being a badass, Flynn.  Maybe next time.

5. Dark Marie, On The Other Hand...: Man, Betsy Brandt continues to kill it. This is the most I've ever loved Marie.  Not just because she's the only person to show Jesse kindness (even if it's kindness as a means to an end), but because Dark Marie spent six hours online looking up untraceable poisons.  Saxitoxin indeed.  She and Hank are still wearing black/navy this episode (though you can see her purple shining through).  I'm delighted we finally got to meet Therapist Dave.  That man earns every penny, does he not?

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6.  Saul's Nonsense Is Wearing Thin:  Between Saul's Old Yeller ramble and Kuby's Babylon 5 reference, I wasn't really digging this scene.  Saul's nonsense is wearing thin with Walt and, for the first time, with me.  This isn't really a condemnation of Bob Odenkirk.  He is always a rockstar.  I just felt the writing was off in this interchange.  What I did appreciate, however, is how good Kuby is at his job. I mean, those are all the places would look for Jesse.

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7. Am I The Only One Who Was Over-Analyzing The Schrader Bookshelf?:  I'm sure I wasn't.  Someone at Vulture or Buzzfeed is probably busy compiling an exhaustive list at this very moment. Two things worth noting. 1) the Schrader's own a Deadwood box set.  Shout out to Anna Gunn?  2) That's Ronald Reagan's bio that Jesse is eyeballing.  You know, Reagan, the leader of the war on drugs.  Makes sense that ASAC Schrader would own that.

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8.  Well It's A Good Thing Anna Gunn Wrote That New York Times Article Last Week:  This is the moment Skyler Haters have been waiting for.  We can no longer claim that Skyler is a good woman trapped in a bad situation.  Nor can we claim that she's only broken bad-ish.  Here she is pushing Walt to kill someone.  (And not just anyone, of course.  She's looking to put Our Favorite Puppy down.) In short, Sky goes full Lady Macbeth here, demanding Walt screw his courage to the sticking point.  I can't argue with you folks on this one.  I mean, I'm still sympathetic to Skyler.  But she crossed a major line here.  I have to wonder if Gunn wrote that NYT piece in anticipation of the hate she would receive this week.  There are moments in this scene where I loved her.  For instance, when Walt sneeringly asked if she was spying on him and she drily claims to "feel terrible" about it.  I'm saving that one.  And she's not entirely wrong.  Her family is in danger.  But she doesn't know Jesse like we know him.  Like Walt knows him.  And so this?  Ice cold.

9. What's Another Shakespearean Reference Among Friends?: Skyler may get to play Lady Macbeth here, but Jesse is doing an awfully good Hamlet impression.  (The Hamlet theory is heightened by two mentions of being pricked/stabbed.  One from Saul and another from Jesse.  This, you may recall, is how Laertes, Hamlet and Claudius die.  Ophelia (Jane?) drowned and Gertrude (Sky?), well, she drinks poison.) There's a scene in Act III of Shakespeare's most famous play where Hamlet finds his Uncle Claudius (who has killed his father and married his mother) praying.  Hamlet has been plotting his revenge on his uncle and this is his moment.  His one clean shot.  "Now I might do it," the prince says.  But he doesn't.  Oh he has his reasons.  In his mind if he killed Claudius right then, his murdering uncle would go to heaven.  Jesse's reasons for not acting here are a little less philosophical.  He's convinced Walt's got a hit man waiting for him.  But the circumstances are the same.  This was Jesse's clean shot to take down Walt with the help of Hank and that wire.  And he didn't act.  He played the indecisive prince.  And, just as in Hamlet, we the audience know what our hero doesn't. THAT was his chance.  Claudius wasn't actually praying and that menacing bald man that frightened Jesse was just waiting on his daughter. And so, at the end of the story, when the stage is strewn with bodies, we'll all look back at this moment.  Then might he have done it.

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10. Because Look Out Old Jackie's Back: I've heaped a lot of praise on the performances in general this episode without giving Bryan Cranston his proper due. From high-comedy (Gan Can Antics!) to profound tragedy, Cranston nailed it all.  As he always does. I'll admit that I was wrong and believe, now, that Walt doesn't want to hurt Jesse.  But I also believe that he will.  If he has to.  No, I doubt he's putting a hit out on the boy, but it's really never a good idea to get Uncle Jack involved if you want things to end without bloodshed.  Either way, the supremacists are back in the game in a very real way and this means trouble.

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Crackpot Theories Of The Week:  First of all, let's acknowledge that the WYRUP thing paid off this week.  So good job, license plate crack pots!

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And if the license plate is any indication, I don't think it's outside the realm of possibility that this mug spells D-E-A-(handle that looks like another) D.  Is this Jesse's future?

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Alternatively, will Hank go so far outside the law in his pursuit of Walt that he himself lands in jail? Marie too?

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Musical Moment Of The Week:  If you haven't had a chance to listen to our interview with series composer Dave Porter, please please do.   I have such a higher appreciation for the work that man does.  So, in honor of him, the musical moment of the week is the reprise of last week's "Gas Can Rage." We heard it again in the middle of this episode and, along with the sizzle/crunch of the score that accompanied Walt's tense break-in at the top of the episode, intensified our anxiety.